If you’re visiting Menorca in springtime, expect to find an island in full bloom. Across the countryside and along cycling paths, a vibrant display of colour comes to life in the form of scarlet poppies, yellow buttercups, and blue cornflowers. Among the fields of wildflowers that carpet the island in the run-up to the popular summer season, you may get the chance to glimpse one of Menorca’s shyest but also most beautiful residents: the wild orchid. |
The Allure of the Orchid
The orchid family is one of the largest families of flowering plants in the world, with some 27,800 species accounted for. Despite this huge variety, it is usually easy to spot members of the this family due to their downward-facing blossoms, striking bilateral symmetry, and often highly modified or enlarged petal.
Orchids have long been prized for their beauty – indeed some species can be quite expensive on the flower market. Ranging in colour from delicate yellow to the deepest magenta, they are a favourite of florists and horticulturalists. There are even several societies, both local and national, dedicated to studying, collecting, and conserving these beautiful plants.
Orchids in Menorca
Orchids prefer the warm, damp climates of the tropics and subtropics, so Menorca is the perfect breeding ground for these prized flowers. Many people may have only seen them as potted, ornamental plants, so it’s truly a special experience to see one in the wild. Depending on where you’re staying while you’re visiting Menorca, you may even find them in the garden of your rental villa!
Remember that orchids are a protected species in Spain, and it is forbidden to pick them. Menorca, as a designated UNESCO biosphere reserve, is committed to conserving its unique biodiversity, so you are urged to collect the island’s flowers only through photography.
What to Look For
Over 60 species have been spotted on the island, so there’s a good chance that you’ll spot one while visiting Menorca. Here are a few of the species that currently call Menorca home.
Ophrys speculum, “mirror orchid” – This striking flower is characterised by its large, glossy blue lip, fringed with tiny red-brown hairs. Pollinated exclusively by one species of wasp, the Dasyscolia ciliate, the mirror orchid emits a scent that greatly resembles the pheromones of a female wasp, thus “tricking” the male wasp into pollinating it.
Orchis tridentata, “three-toothed orchid” – Found in Southern Europe from Spain to turkey, the three-toothed variant of this exceptional flower is recognisable by its pale purple petals covered with tiny red dots. It prefers to grow in grassland, open woodland, or dense thicket.
Himantoglossum robertianum, “giant orchid” – This towering specimen can reach over a metre in height, though it can be quite rare. Its flowers, ranging in colour from white to green to purple, are arranged into a dense conical shape upon a thick stem. It flowers early in the season, between February and April, so beat the summer crowds by visiting Menorca in the spring!
Brenda Jaaback, Managing Director of Bartle Holidays, is a renowned Menorca expert. From its history to its people and from its wildlife to its cuisine - no secret of the island remains hidden to her. Personally selecting the finest properties for her clients, Brenda is the go-to person for anyone visiting Menorca for a relaxing holiday. Bartle Holidays makes no warranty as to the accuracy of information contained in this article and excludes any liability of any kind for the information.
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